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That's why children who grew up in immigrant households are made to feel ashamed when they speak another language. It's really too bad because I wish at some point they would just pick the official languages as Spanish and English. They are the most commonly spoken languages here. A lot of the names in this country are Spanish — especially in parts that used to belong to Mexico. Names of cities and streets, they're Spanish. I write in English, I always write in English, but I try to include some Spanish in there, to acknowledge that I'm bilingual and honor my mother tongue.

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Well, I think that when you hear politicians talk about immigration, a lot of times the issue is discussed in terms of politics or the economy. It's also important to keep in mind that we're talking about human beings. When I wrote this book, I was writing for readers who do not have a lot of information, to get an insight. Make people think about what counts as immigration and why people leave their homes behind. I feel that when people are allowed to come here as refugees it's mostly because of war or a political situation they were involved in, but an economic refugee is looked down upon.

Poverty is a consequence of this capitalist society that we live in and a very uneven society where few people have a lot and a lot of people don't have much. There are places like Mexico and a lot of other countries where a lot of people don't have much and a lot of times they're victims to their governments but also foreign governments that come in and create instability; economic instability especially.

So I guess for me it's just writing about my experience with poverty and how that led to all of the things that happened with my family. Right now, one of the ways in which readers gauge a book is by its socio-political impact. I think it's important to read the book because we're still dealing with the situation, especially right now that we're talking about the young, undocumented immigrants living here, figuring out what to do with them. We seem to be taking a long time making the right choice.

One of the differences between me and the Dreamers is that I was very fortunate to have been able to legalize my status while I was still a teenager. Because of that opportunity, I was able to do all of the things that I did and reach my dreams and accomplish everything that I had set out for myself. I think that the Dreamers could go on to do all of those wonderful things if we gave them a chance. Did you watch President Trump's recent State of the Union address?

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Immigration was a major focus. I really feel that it's not that difficult to make that decision, to pass immigration reform that will open the door for young immigrants. I feel that there's something going on in this country where we don't seem to do our best for young people. No matter if they're immigrants or citizens. We're failing our young people by not giving enough to education, cutting school budgets. If that's the way we treat U.

The memoir notes the vastly different struggles that exist in Mexico versus those in the States.

But some of the most touching moments in "The Distance Between Us" are those that everyone can relate to: sibling rivalry, favoritism, jealousy, or just wanting to make your parents proud. How does the memoir connect all readers to the Grande family? I feel the poverty part is something that readers can relate to because there are a lot of poor people in the U.


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But there's a lot of poverty here. Also family dysfunction, it's an experience that many people can relate to. I think that's something that affects all cultures. And then the experience and being a young person and trying to figure out your place in the world. I think that's also universal. The sequel comes out this year. Is there anything you can tell us that we can look forward to in that memoir?

I'm always being asked: what happened after? When I do school visits and readings, that's always the question people ask me. I thought that I would write this book because a lot of Latino literature is focused on the teenage years. But there's not a lot that focuses on the college years.

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Students of color have a different experience in college than white students. POC" and he writes about that experience. I guess the theme of the book is my search for a home and belonging. The second story line in there is about my pursuit of my writing dream. It's about my search to belong and trying to find the home that I had longed for all these years and realizing that I was going to have to build my own home because nobody else was going to give it to me.

Website powered by Foundation. Switch to the mobile version of this page. Pin It. Favorites Saving…. Speaking of Browse Listings Events. Martin Luther King, Jr. When Reyna refuses to spaghetti because it reminds her of the roundworms she had back in Mexico, Papi dumps the plate over her head and screams at her. When Mago gets her period for the first time and misses school because of her cramps, Papi lashes her with a belt. Mila turns a blind eye and offers Reyna and her siblings little comfort.

One day, Papi takes a bus downtown and returns with shocking: Mami is living just on the other side of town. More than that, she has come here with her boyfriend, has left Betty behind in Mexico, and is pregnant. Papi forbids them to see their mother until several months later, when Betty arrives in the US.

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The Distance Between Us: Young Readers Edition

Mago starts high school, and Papi is proud of her for being the first person in their family to do so. She seeks out other ways to set herself apart from her sister, and takes up the alto saxophone both as a way of impressing Papi and as a method of expressing herself—English is still hard for her, but when it comes to the sax, there is only music. When Papi learns that his sister, Emperatriz , has moved into the property he owned back in Iguala, he returns to Mexico to get it back, risking his green card process.

As Mago graduates from high school, Reyna and her siblings at last obtain their green cards. Reyna is succeeding in school and band, but Papi hardly seems to notice all her accomplishments. Reyna is shocked to see how Iguala has deteriorated, and as she reconnects with her family and friends, struggles to believe that she, too, grew up in such poverty.

The two sisters get into their first big fight as they hash out feelings of obligation and disconnection to their Mexican heritage. A few weeks later, though, when Mago secures an apartment, she revokes her offer to Reyna. Reyna is accepted to UC Irvine, and they all go out to celebrate—but the next day, Mago moves out without a word, and Papi tells Reyna she is forbidden from going to school. Reyna begins holing up in her room, refusing to come out while Papi is home. She engages in reckless behaviors, starting to have unprotected sex with her boyfriend Steve and getting into a dangerous situation with two men who offer her a modeling gig.

The Distance Between Us

At rock bottom, Reyna decides to turn herself around. She is expecting a fight or even a beating, but Papi accepts her decision. Reyna enrolls at Pasadena City College and meets her first mentor, a professor named Diana Savas , who introduces Reyna to many great books from the Latina literary canon. Even after Dr. One night, Papi pushes Mila down the stairs and is arrested.


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Reyna goes to stay with Mami, but realizes she cannot live in such cramped, dirty conditions. Reyna confesses the truth about her abusive home life to Dr. Savas, who invites Reyna to come and live with her. Reyna accepts. A year and a half later—after having returned to him for a while—Mila decides to leave Papi, taking money from their bank account and filing a restraining order.

Papi is left with nothing, and both Mago and Carlos—who are busy with their own families and children—encourage Reyna to move home for the summer before she starts classes at UC Santa Cruz, to care for Papi. Reyna reluctantly agrees, and finds that Papi is more docile, friendly, and present than he has ever been.